The Someday File

Here are a few of the dishes you might find in my Someday File: An authentic lasagna from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy (Someday I’ll have time to make pasta from scratch); That Post-it tagged lobster pot pie recipe from one of the Barefoot Contessa books (Someday I’ll be able to justify spending $25/pound on shellfish that gets lost in an ocean of butter and cream); A spicy chicken dish from the New York Times that calls for tamarind paste (Three Somedays here: Someday my kids might be able to handle the hot stuff, Someday I’ll have time to hunt down tamarind paste, and Someday someone will tell me if tamarind paste is the same thing as tamarind concentrate.) My Someday file is not buried on the MacBook or on my epi App. It’s not in a box on a shelf lined up in my kitchen’s Command Central. The file is in my brain and, miraculously, includes an interactive slide show function that has run on a loop ever since 2002, when Phoebe was born. When we were in the middle of The Great Pizza-Pasta-Nugget Rut of 2005, I’d close my eyes and picture the full-page color photos of dahl and turmeric and chilies in Maya Kaimal’s Savoring the Spice Coast of India. Someday, I told myself, I’d be able to trade in these chicken fingers for Kaimal’s 15-ingredient Chicken with Green Chilies and Tamarind.

I’m proud to say that particular Someday arrived last night. I was about make one of my half-way homemade dinners with a Kaimal simmer sauce — yes, this is the same Kaimal who created the line of fresh, flavorful simmer sauces you can find at Whole Foods — when I looked at the clock. It was 5:00. Every box on the day’s to-do list was checked. The girls were entertaining themselves with some game involving a planet called Zorbitor. And — here’s the real crazy part — I actually had a small packet of tamarind paste in the pantry. I didn’t have fresh curry leaves or the 7 to 10 serrano or Thai chilies the recipe called for, but miraculously, I had everything else. I took it as a sign. Someday was Here! Someday was Right Now! And Someday ended up tasting really really really good.

Chicken with Green Chilies and Tamarind
Serves 6 to 8
This was a little too spicy for Abby — it was even a little too spicy for Andy who drinks hot sauce for breakfast. (Phoebe, however, seemed remarkably un-phased.) I recommend cutting back on the chilies, especially if you’re making this for the kids.

1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
7 to 10 fresh green chilies (serrano or Thai; but I had jalapeno) according to taste (I used 2)
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 to 15 fresh curry leaves (I didn’t have these)
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
Ground Masala: 3 teaspoons coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup chopped tomato
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes

In a small bowl combine the tamarind concentrate and 2 tablespoons hot water. Using your fingers, break up tamarind to dissolve completely.

If your fingers are sensitive, wear rubber gloves for this step. Remove and discard stems from the green chilies and slice in half lengthwise. With a sharp knife remove seeds and ribs; discard. Set chilies aside.

In a wide deep pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the curry leaves and after they crackle for a few seconds add the onion and fry until soft. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and green chilies and fry until the onion begins to brown. Add the ground masala, tomato, salt, sugar, and 1/4 cup water and fry until tomato breaks down and mixture becomes paste-like. Sprinkle in a little more water if the mixture dries out.

Add in the chicken and dissolved tamarind and simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be moderately thick. Taste for salt before serving.

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Yeah for crossing something off the Someday list! I have a whole folder of 3-page Martha Stewart desserts and entrees that take 2 days to make that I’m saving for my Someday.

Or for the trash if that Someday never comes. 🙂


Happy for your Someday Come True! One of my Someday recipes involves fried chicken from scratch, using Thomas Kellor’s recipe from his Ad Hoc cookbook…. someday I’ll have the courage to attempt it…..


Here’s something to cross off the list – tamarind paste v. concentrate. Tamarind paste is a solid made up of crushed/pureed tamarind pods. It generally needs to be soaked in water to release its flavor and then depending on the brand needs to be strained to remove any seeds or hulls. Tamarind concentrate is a form of the already soaked and strained tamarind paste so you don’t have to do those steps. However, it is generally really potent. In most recipes that call for paste, I substitute half that amount of concentrate (no water) and then taste to see how much that affects the flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever used more than a tablespoon in any recipe since it’s pretty intense. It can throw off the liquid amounts in a recipe when you substitute so keep that in mind and be prepared to add water or stock/broth to whatever is cooking. But I don’t like to just sub in the same amount of water called for because it can really water down the recipe. I wish there was a more clear substitution amount but I’ve found it’s mostly trial and error. Looks delicious!


So glad that you’ve made it to your Someday list! I can’t wait to make it to mine – homemade pastas, lots of things from Mario Batali and now I think I have yours to add to my list. Thanks!


This looks delicious, I want to try and make it this weekend…since you didn’t have curry leaves, how much curry powder did you use?


Looks so good! Number one on my someday list: pumpkin gnocchi. My daughter will like it, but right now there’s a sippy cup in my pocket and Curious George puzzle piece to tape back together. Ahhh… someday…


I made this tonight, and they all ate it with no complaints! (They = husband, 13yr old boy, 7yr old boy) I also had no curry leaves. I used a 14 1/2 oz. can of chopped tomatoes, and a 4oz. can of green chiles because that is what I had on hand. Yum.